This summer I worked for a professor and his graduate student at the University of Idaho. The University of Idaho is located in Moscow, Idaho along the Idaho state border with Washington. The institution is uniquely located in that they are in relatively close proximity to many of the vastly different ecosystems located throughout the American West. The main area that I worked was the moist forests of the Selkirk Mountain Range in Northern Idaho. I was hired by Dr. Andrew Nelson as a field technician for his graduate student Jon Cherico. Dr. Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the University of Idaho’s Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences. Much of what he studies and teaches involves topics such as stand development, forest regeneration, and silviculture. I worked as the field technician for his graduate student Jon Cherico – Jon was collecting data this summer for his master’s thesis which involved a study on how different site preparation methods affected the growth of Douglas fir and Western White Pine in the moist regions of the Inland Northwest.
When I was looking for summer jobs I intentionally applied for jobs outside of the region. I saw the job description posted by Dr. Nelson and felt that it would be an interesting place to work while also giving me experience and insight into an area of forestry that I had no experience with, and that is research. I had never been further west than the Mississippi River and I could not pass up the chance to gain valuable work experience while also seeing a different part of the country. By leaving Georgia for the summer I also knew that I would be pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I felt leaving family, friends, and then living and working with strangers would be a good character building experience.
What initially attracted me to the job was that it offered me the opportunity to work outdoors in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of the Inland Northwest. I worked with Jon on his research for his master’s thesis. Most of the time we were working in the valley and on the mountain sides of the Priest River Experimental forest area. We were collecting data by felling randomly selected crop trees that were planted in the study thirty years ago. Once the tree was on the ground we took intense measurements of the trees height, diameters along the stem, and diameters and cardinal direction of every branch along the stem. We also counted rings and measured sap wood of disc cross sections taken along the tree.
Besides working this summer I also had the opportunity to visit some of the most stunning sites in the American West. I spent some time off traveling down the Oregon coast and down into the Redwoods of Northern California. I was also able to visit Crater Lake and Glacier National Parks. Many times I was breath taken by the majesty and beauty if some of these landscapes. My time here at Warnell has provided me with knowledge and understanding that allowed me to appreciate my experiences this summer in ways I could not have otherwise.